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Senior Software Engineer (AI Safety Institute)- Department for Science, Innovation & Technology-SCS1

Government Digital & Data -

Full-time (Permanent)
£65,000 - £135,000
Published on
21 June 2024
Deadline
15 December 2024

Senior Software Engineer (AI Safety Institute)

Department for Science, Innovation & Technology

Apply before 11:55 pm on Sunday 15th December 2024

 

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Details

Reference number

358069

Salary

£65,000 - £135,000

Base salary of between £35,720 (L3) - £68,770 (L6) which is supplemented with an allowance between £29,280 to £66,230

Job grade

Other

L3, L4, L5, L6

Contract type

Fixed term
Secondment

Length of employment

18-24 months

Business area

DSIT - Science, Innovation and Growth - AISI

Type of role

Digital

Working pattern

Flexible working, Full-time, Part-time

Number of jobs available

2

Contents

Location

London

About the job

Job summary

About the AI Safety Institute 

The AI Safety Institute is the first state-backed organisation focused on advancing AI safety for the public interest. We launched at the Bletchley Park AI Safety Summit in 2023 because we believe taking responsible action on this extraordinary technology requires a capable and empowered group of technical experts within government.  

We have ambitious goals and need to move fast.  

  1. Develop and conduct evaluations on advanced AI systems. We will characterise safety-relevant capabilities, understand the safety and security of systems, and assess their societal impacts. 
  2. Develop novel tools for AI governance. We will create practical frameworks and novel methods to evaluate the safety and societal impacts of advanced AI systems, and anticipate how future technical safety research will feed into AI governance. 
  3. Facilitate information exchange. We will establish clear information-sharing channels between the Institute and other national and international actors. These include stakeholders such as policymakers and international partners. 

Our staff includes senior alumni from OpenAI, Google DeepMind, start-ups and the UK government, and ML professors from leading universities. We are now calling on the world’s top technical talent to join us. This is a truly unique opportunity to help shape AI safety at an international level. 

As more powerful models are expected to hit the market over the course of 2024, AISI’s mission to push for safe and responsible development and deployment of AI is more important than ever. 

What we value: 

  • Diverse Perspectives: We believe that a range of experiences and backgrounds is essential to our success. We welcome individuals from underrepresented groups to join us in this crucial mission. 
  • Collaborative Spirit: We thrive on teamwork and open collaboration, valuing every contribution, big or small. 
  • Innovation and Impact: We are dedicated to making a real-world difference in the field of frontier AI safety and capability, and we encourage innovative thinking and bold ideas. 
  • Our Inclusive Environment: We are building an inclusive culture to make the Department a brilliant place to work where our people feel valued, have a voice and can be their authentic selves. We value difference and diversity, not only because we believe it is the right thing to do, but because it will help us be more innovative and make better decisions. 

Job description

The AI Safety Institute is seeking skilled Senior Software Engineers to build the evaluations for next-generation frontier AI systems. Our Sr. SWEs work on a wide range of critical products and infrastructure for that goal: from building our core evaluation framework, to developing state of the art AI agents, to writing complex orchestration for multi-actor cybersecurity tests. This position offers a unique opportunity to be the core part of one of the leading organisations in the AI research and governance space. 

The role  

Our Senior Software Engineers work both on the core platform and infrastructure underlying our evaluations as well as directly within our individual research teams. This requires a mix of skills across our engineers: Creating expert interfaces and highly accessible red-teaming frontends, providing fast and secure inference channels for internal and external models, as well as ML ops capabilities for hosting and fine-tuning our own models.  

It also requires cross-functional collaboration, as our SWEs work closely with scientists, domain experts, and research engineers to develop brand new evaluation tools that leverage emerging research, while maintaining high levels of privacy and security integrity. 

We work with a mixture of our own custom and open-source evaluation, analysis and visualisation frameworks. While much of our work will require prototyping and proving completely new approaches, our expectation is to ultimately deliver rock-solid outputs and evaluations that can be depended on. 

You will be expected to bring your own experience and opinions when it comes to software architecture, and the design of the user-facing parts of our evaluation's platform. 

On any given day you will be interacting with researchers, research engineers, UX designers or our operations team to define requirements, turn those requirements into designs, prototypes or production code in collaboration with other engineers, and make sure that our platform is bug-free, stable and covered with a solid amounts of tests to withstand the ever-increasing evaluation traffic. All while ensuring privacy and security requirements of the highest standards. 

Requirements & Experience 

You will need significant combined experience in one or more of the following areas:  

  • Frontend or Tools Development 
  • Backend / API Design 
  • Dev Ops / ML Ops / ML Infrastructure 
  • Privacy and Security Engineering 
  • Engineering Management & Leadership 

We highly encourage generalists to apply but there is no need to check all the boxes. 

Person specification

This role may be a great fit if you: 

  • Have substantial experience in building software systems to meet user requirements, managing increasing scale, and upholding high privacy and security standards. 
  • Have led or been a significant contributor to relevant software projects, demonstrating cross-functional collaboration skills. 
  • Deeply care about the user experience of a diverse range of users, from machine learning researchers to domain experts, to wide and diverse groups of human evaluators. 
  • Build tools to accelerate not just users' but also your own workflows whenever off-the-shelf solutions are not readily available or good enough. 
  • Work independently and in a self-directed way, thriving in a constantly changing environment and a steadily growing team, while figuring out the best way to solve a particular problem. 
  • Bring your own voice and experience but also an eagerness to support your colleagues, being ready to do whatever is necessary for the team’s success. 
  • Take responsibility for problems from beginning to end, demonstrating problem-solving abilities and preparedness to acquire any missing knowledge necessary to get the job done. 

Machine Learning 

  • We do not require you to have extensive expertise with AI Foundation Models. Familiarity with training, fine-tuning and running inference on cutting-edge LLMs or diffusion models will be helpful but not required. 
  • This role will may sit within our Platform Engineering team or as an embedded engineer in one of our Research and Evaluation teams if this fits your interests and the needs of our projects. 

Core requirements 

  • You should be able to join us for at least 12 months.  
  • You should be able work from our office in London (Whitehall) for parts of the week, but we provide flexibility for remote work. 

Benefits

The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology offers a competitive mix of benefits including:

  • A culture of flexible working, such as job sharing, homeworking and compressed hours.
  • Automatic enrolment into the Civil Service Pension Scheme, with an average employer contribution of 27%.
  • A minimum of 25 days of paid annual leave, increasing by 1 day per year up to a maximum of 30.
  • An extensive range of learning & professional development opportunities, which all staff are actively encouraged to pursue.
  • Access to a range of retail, travel and lifestyle employee discounts.

Office attendance

The Department operates a discretionary hybrid working policy, which provides for a combination of working hours from your place of work and from your home in the UK. The current expectation for staff is to attend the office or non-home based location for 40-60% of the time over the accounting period.

Things you need to know

Selection process details

The interview process may vary candidate to candidate, however, you should expect a typical process to include some technical proficiency tests, discussions with a cross-section of our team at AISI (including non-technical staff), conversations with your workstream lead. The process will culminate in a conversation with members of the senior team here at AISI.

Sift and interview process

Candidates should expect to go through some or all of the following stages once an application has been submitted:-

  • Coding test
  • Initial interview
  • Technical take home test
  • Second interview and review of take home test
  • Third stage interview
  • Final stage interview

We reserve the right to close this vacancy with a two week notice period if we have received a sufficient number of applications. Please submit your application as early as possible to ensure that you are considered for the role.

Nationality Requirements 

If you do not meet the standard nationality requirements as detailed below, then we would still encourage you to submit an application. We may be able to explore other options such as seconding you in from either your current employer or a third party organisation.

Not meeting the nationality rules set out below should not be seen as an automatic barrier to applying for this role.

Further Information

Existing Civil Servants and applicants from accredited NDPBs are eligible to apply,and can be considered on loan basis (Civil Servants) or secondment (accredited NDPBs). Prior agreement to be released on a loan basis must be obtained before commencing the application process. In the case of Civil Servants, the terms of the loan will be agreed between the home and host department and the Civil Servant. This includes grade on return.

Reasonable Adjustment

We are proud to be a disability confident leader and we welcome applications from disabled candidates and candidates with long-term conditions.

We fully support adjustments throughout our recruitment process and we encourage candidates to discuss their adjustment needs by emailing the job contact which can be found under the contact point for applicants section.

We do not have an exhaustive list of adjustments that we support but just some examples include additional time to complete your application form, behaviour questions up to 72 hours prior to interview and having extra time at interview.

If you are experiencing accessibility problems with any attachments on this advert, please contact the email address in the 'Contact point for applicants' section.

If successful and transferring from another Government Department a criminal record check may be carried out.

New entrants are expected to join on the minimum of the pay band.

A location based reserve list of successful candidates will be kept for 12 months. Should another role become available within that period you may be offered this position.

Please note terms and conditions are attached. Please take time to read the document to determine how these may affect you.

Any move to the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology from another employer will mean you can no longer access childcare vouchers. This includes moves between government departments. You may however be eligible for other government schemes, including Tax Free Childcare. Determine your eligibility https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk

DSIT does not normally offer full home working (i.e. working at home); but we do offer a variety of flexible working options (including occasionally working from home). 

DSIT cannot offer Visa sponsorship to candidates through this campaign.

DSIT holds a Visa sponsorship licence but this can only be used for certain roles and this campaign does not qualify.

In order to process applications without delay, we will be sending a Criminal Record Check to Disclosure and Barring Service on your behalf.

However, we recognise in exceptional circumstances some candidates will want to send their completed forms direct. If you will be doing this, please advise Government Recruitment Service of your intention by emailing Pre-EmploymentChecks.grs@cabinetoffice.gov.uk stating the job reference number in the subject heading. 

Applicants who are successful at interview will be, as part of pre-employment screening, subject to a check on the Internal Fraud Database (IFD). This check will provide information about employees who have been dismissed for fraud or dishonesty offences. This check also applies to employees who resign or otherwise leave before being dismissed for fraud or dishonesty had their employment continued. Any applicant’s details held on the IFD will be refused employment. 

A candidate is not eligible to apply for a role within the Civil Service if the application is made within a 5 year period following a dismissal for carrying out internal fraud against government.

Feedback


Feedback will only be provided if you attend an interview or assessment.

Security

Successful candidates must undergo a criminal record check.

People working with government assets must complete baseline personnel security standard (opens in new window) checks.

Nationality requirements

This job is broadly open to the following groups:

  • UK nationals
  • nationals of the Republic of Ireland
  • nationals of Commonwealth countries who have the right to work in the UK
  • nationals of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and family members of those nationalities with settled or pre-settled status under the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS) (opens in a new window)
  • nationals of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and family members of those nationalities who have made a valid application for settled or pre-settled status under the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS)
  • individuals with limited leave to remain or indefinite leave to remain who were eligible to apply for EUSS on or before 31 December 2020
  • Turkish nationals, and certain family members of Turkish nationals, who have accrued the right to work in the Civil Service

Further information on nationality requirements (opens in a new window)

Working for the Civil Service

The Civil Service Code (opens in a new window) sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants.

We recruit by merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission's recruitment principles (opens in a new window).

The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equal opportunities. As such, we run a Disability Confident Scheme (DCS) for candidates with disabilities who meet the minimum selection criteria.


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